All types of geraniums grown in the house are united by the name “room geranium”. These are perennial herbs or shrubs with strong stems up to 60 cm high, dissected leaves and bright flowers collected in umbrella inflorescences at the tops of the shoots. They come from South Africa, first appeared in Russia in 1795, and since then for several centuries have been considered one of the most popular indoor flowers. Geraniums are valued for their abundant flowering, lasting from early spring to mid-winter in good conditions, aroma, and at the same time unpretentiousness and ease of care.
Home geraniums can be divided into two groups – flowering and fragrant.
The first includes species with bright attractive inflorescences. There are many varieties with single-color and “speckled” (striped and speckled), simple and double flowers of any, except for pure yellow and blue, tones and shades. The structure of the flower can be star-shaped, rose-shaped , cactus -shaped, tulip . Spectacular dwarf (12.5-20 cm), miniature (10-12.5 cm) and microminiature (up to 10 cm) forms have been created. There are ampelous types. With proper care, homemade geraniums can bloom almost all year round.
The second group includes plants that have a strong pleasant aroma, for which they are grown. They usually have small pink or purple nondescript flowers, and deeply cut leaves. Different species smell differently, strong-smelling geranium (P. graveolens) – rose, fragrant (P. odoratissimum) – apple, sad (P. Triste) – nutmeg. There are varieties with the aroma of mint, lemon, orange.
All geraniums have a specific smell of varying intensity. If you rub a leaf of this indoor flower between your fingers, the room will be filled with its aroma. At the same time, geranium at home does not just smell, but releases bactericidal substances that purify and disinfect indoor air.
An additional decoration of plants can be leaves that have a different shape, from almost whole to deeply cut, and colors, green (various shades), gold, bronze, silver, often with concentric circles of transitional tones, sometimes with a white border.
At home, geraniums can grow and develop within 4-5 years, and with proper care, they retain their decorative effect for more than 10 years.
Geranium care at home
For successful cultivation, geraniums are placed in a well-lit place, providing a slight shading from direct sunlight in the summer. It develops well on the windows of the southern direction, with a lack of lighting on the northern and eastern windows, it stretches out. During the winter months, fluorescent lighting is beneficial to the plant.
The temperature in the room should be moderate, in winter during the dormant period about 10-15 ° C, regular ventilation is desirable. In the summer, the flower can be taken out to the loggia or balcony.
For abundant and long flowering, geraniums are planted in loose, nutrient-rich soil with good drainage, for example, a mixture of equal parts of sod, leafy, humus soil, peat and sand. The pot should be small, because the plant blooms only after the roots fill the entire space of the vessel.
Geranium does not require complex care. She does not need spraying and a lot of moisture. In the summer, the flower is watered as the soil dries out, in winter no more than 1 time in 10 days, the earthen ball should be almost dry. Feed during the period of active growth, from March to August, with potash fertilizers every 2 weeks. When using ready-made liquid fertilizers, it is necessary to pay attention to the amount of nitrogen – it should be minimal, otherwise foliage will grow to the detriment of flowering.
Geraniums are pruned in autumn, leaving at least two lower leaves on the stem. Cut shoots can be used for propagation. If the plants are very stretched during the winter, they are cut again in the spring. This is done at the end of February or at the beginning of March, when the dormant period ends, cutting off the old stems to 2-5 buds. In the future, for better flowering and an increase in the number of shoots, they are pinched when 4-5 leaves appear. It is not recommended to carry out pruning and cuttings from December to January.
Thus, all geraniums are cut, except for the large-flowered royal geranium. It blooms in the second year after planting, and blooms more abundantly without pruning.
Withered buds and yellowed leaves are regularly removed, while in order to avoid damage to the stem, it is better not to break off the leaves, but to cut them off.
The plant does not like transplants. They are made no more than once every 2 years, since geraniums can be transplanted into a larger pot only when the previous one becomes obviously small. Every year you can replace the top layer of soil without a complete flower transplant.
Geranium propagation: planting and pruning
For propagation, stem cuttings and seeds are used.
Cuttings can be harvested throughout the year, but it is better to do this in the spring, cutting off from the side or apical shoots so that the cut part is at least 5-7 cm and has 2-3 leaves. Within a few hours, the planting material is dried, then, sprinkling the cut with crushed coal, they are planted in a permanent place in a small pot filled with suitable soil.
You can root cuttings in coarse sand, followed by transplanting to a permanent place. In this case, the sand should always be slightly damp, but not wet, watering should be done so that moisture does not get on the stems and leaves, otherwise, especially at low temperatures, young plants quickly rot. Cuttings take root better at 20-22 ° C, no additional shelter is required for them.
Propagation of geraniums by seeds is also not particularly difficult. Although purchased seeds are quite expensive, they germinate well and allow you to get a large number of seedlings in a short time. Plants grown from seeds form compact bushes and bloom 5-6 months after planting. The use of own seeds, which ripen in August-September, is possible only when growing varietal geraniums in favorable conditions with artificial or insect pollination. Hybrid geraniums with such reproduction lose the signs of the mother plant.
To accelerate the germination of the actually grown seeds, they are scarified, that is, they are ground with fine-grained sandpaper in order to violate the integrity of the hard integumentary scales and shells. After that, after 2-3 weeks, friendly shoots appear. Without such treatment, plants sprout unevenly within 3 months. Purchased seeds do not need scarification.
Geraniums can be sown throughout the year, provided that they are illuminated in the autumn-winter period with fluorescent lamps. When planting in February-March, the length of daylight hours by the time the shoots appear increases, and there is enough natural light for them.
Seeds are planted in a moist, breathable loose substrate, sprinkled with a 2-5 mm layer of soil or sand and moistened with a spray bottle. Soddy soil, peat and sand in a ratio of 2:1:1 can be used as a substrate. It is desirable to pre-disinfect it, for example, with a pink solution of potassium permanganate, since geranium seedlings are often affected by the “black leg”. Landings are covered with glass, regularly moistened, aired daily to eliminate condensate. The most favorable temperature for seed germination is 18-22 °C. After the emergence of seedlings, they are placed in a bright place, the glass is removed, the temperature is reduced to 16-20 ° C. With proper care, seedlings develop rapidly, after 1-1.5 months they form 2-3 true leaves, after which the plants are planted in small pots, deepening to the level at which they grew before. Above 5-6 leaves, the shoots are pinched, which contributes to tillering and longer flowering of geraniums.
Features of growing indoor geraniums in the garden – how to transplant geraniums
Unpretentiousness to growing conditions, ease of propagation and high decorative qualities make this home flower universal, since geraniums can be grown not only in room culture, but also in the garden as a spectacular annual. With the creation of favorable conditions and proper care, the plant can bloom throughout the season.
For indoor geraniums, choose an open sunny place with loose, well-drained soil. Plant out when danger of frost has passed, without digging into the soil below growth level in the pot. To avoid the growth of leaf mass to the detriment of flowering, you can not get the flower out of the pot, but dig it in the garden with it. To preserve soil moisture, the soil under the plant is recommended to be mulched.
Further care for geraniums is in many ways the same as at home. In the absence of rain, it is watered once a week, for better growth and flowering, it is fertilized every 2 weeks, wilted flowers, and yellowed leaves are regularly removed. In autumn, before the onset of cold weather, they are cleaned in a room where, in order to prevent infection of other home flowers with diseases and pests , the plants are quarantined, if necessary, treated with fungicides and insecticides. Wintering geraniums are kept away from heat sources; when favorable conditions are created, they can be used to obtain cuttings for the next season.